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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

How to Spot misinformation on Your Social Media Feeds

There has recently been a lot written about misinformation and disinformation.

The terrible new reality of our more connected and digitally aware world, which makes trusting what you see more challenging than ever.  

Much disinformation (intentionally misleading) and misinformation (unintentionally misleading) are passed through social media.

How then can you recognize fake news in your Facebook feed, Twitter timeline, or YouTube playlist?   

Social media are used as a medium to spread a lot of disinformation (intentionally misleading) and misinformation (unintentionally misleading); How can you spot fake news in your Facebook feed, Twitter timeline, or YouTube playlist? 

Here are some of the checklists to use to ascertain if a piece of information is genuine:  
  • Is the story or content piece genuine?  
  • Who produced or shared this?  
  • When did this come into being?  
  • Who is the sharer of the content? When did the account get started?  
  • Do they disseminate information from around the world, at all hours of the day and night?  
  • Is it possible that this is a bot? 
  • Why was this made public?   

If you use these questions and do some simple digging before sharing, you too can help prevent disinformation fires on social media.  

Here’s how to do it:   

Look up the information or allegation on the internet. You can sometimes discover fact-checkers who have attempted to refute them online.

If the assertion hasn’t been extensively published in the news, it’s likely because journalists were unable to verify it.   

Take a look at who uploaded this. Examine the poster’s profile, including how long the account has been active and post history, to determine whether they behave like a bot.

If an account tweets at all hours of the day, from all over the world, with contentious political content and stuff reposted from other accounts – those posts were very certainly created by a computer.   

Examine the account’s profile picture. Perform a reverse image search on the picture. If it’s a stock photo or a celebrity photo, it’s a less trustworthy source because it’s anonymous.  

Look for this person’s other social media profiles. Look into everything you can about that individual; do they have any political or religious ties that would explain why they are disseminating a specific viewpoint?   

Examine the stuff that the account has uploaded. Does it appear too good to be true? If it does, it’s probably not real.  

Use a reverse image search to find what you’re looking for; to establish a narrative, lots of misinformation uses historical photographs taken out of context. You may use reverse image search to see whether the image belongs to a different story.   

Whether you know the image or video location, utilizing ‘Street View’ mapping services (provided by Google, Bing, and others) determine if what you’re looking at matches what shows on the map.

You can also do a reverse image search on the profile picture to see if it or similar photos are being used on other accounts; which is a common practice used to create “sockpuppet” accounts; which are fictitious personas created online that allow people to act as trolls while hiding their true identities.   

However, the vast majority of misinformation may be dispelled without the use of any of this equipment. 

 In many circumstances, simply asking the question: “Is this true?” and investigating for a few minutes may allow you to validate or refute the narrative. The issue is that, in this day and age of social media, many of us impulsively push the share button before ever considering asking the question.  

Although social media sites have attempted to halt the spread of misinformation, the only way to stop it is for customers to stop sharing it.   

 

 

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